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2022-2023 Spring Budget

Budget


Our 2022-2023 spring budget was approved by the Board of Trustees on May 25, 2022.


The vision of this year’s budget is as important as the final budget calculations. Significant time was taken to gather our full community’s voice – yours, that of our parents and parent councils, and of the community at large. We brought the reality of our budget, and the imperative of tough financial decisions, to the:

  • Ideas That Make Cents public engagement,
  • the Assurance survey, 
  • Superintendent advisory sessions, and 
  • Parent Councils 

Our goal in these consultations was two-fold: first, to identify the priorities for funding and, second, to gather innovative ideas on cost savings and revenue generation. 

This feedback we received heavily informed the budget that’s approved—and the community’s voice was clear: keep dollars in the classroom.



A measured, responsible pathway to a balanced budget

This budget addresses a 3.5-million-dollar budget deficit. After a thorough analysis, we determined the best way forward to a combination of these four factors:


  • Cost-saving where reasonable
  • Investments in high-potential revenue-generating opportunities
  • The use of $1 500 128 in reserve funds 
  • The decision to run a deficit

Budget vulnerability

There are inherent risks to a budget like this. Any time we run a deficit, there is cause for concern as our tolerance for risk decreases. At the start of this budget, our division will be slightly under the maximum allowable reserves permitted by the Government of Alberta. At the end of this budget, we will be slightly ahead of the minimum, pending additional dollars from Alberta Education.


Our people

81% of our expenditures are our people. Even with significant, ambitious cost savings and revenue generation, adjustments to our employee numbers were inevitable.  

As our enrollment numbers were consistent with 2012-2013 numbers, the decision was made to mirror the staffing levels of that year. This means a 3% employee reduction from the previous (2021-2022) budget year. 

A breakdown of reductions is as follows:

  • Percentage of reductions to certificated staff over the previous budget year: 3%
  • Percentage of reductions to support staff over the previous budget year: 5% (includes Division Office and Facilities)
  • The highest per capita reductions were in the division’s main office, Spitzee Crossing, with an overall loss of 7 employees
  • Employee Retirement Incentive Program (ERIP) and buy-outs further reduced 9 full-time employee equivalents

The pursuit of our potential

The same values that fuel our classrooms—creativity, exploration, partnership, and innovation—will also inform the pursuit of our potential. Our focus in the 2022-2023 budget year remains at the nexus of cost savings and revenue potential.

The Pursuit of Our Potential Graphic

“This budget represents our continued commitment to maximize the dollars we have to spend, avoid disruptions to the goals set forward in our Education Plan, acknowledge our reluctance to create additional interferences after a difficult two years, and support a slow transition to a balanced budget—which we are required to produce to the Government of Alberta. But most of all, the budget we have created remains a testament to our commitment to deliver the best possible education.”

-Shared statement by the Board of Trustees and the Executive team


  

New and notable in this year's budget




New transportation fees:

Funded transportation students will see the implementation of a fee beginning February 1st, 2023. The fee for funded student transportation will be $75 from February 1-June 30, 2023 (1/2 year) and will be set at $150 for the full 2023-2024 year.

Special fees**: 

Kindergarten students living less than 2.4 km from school (or attending a school other than their designated school): $200

Grades 1-12 students living less than 2.4 km from school (or attending a school other than their designated school): $400 

Non-Division students attending a Division school when there is no Letter of Understanding or Education Services Agreement in place with the resident Board: $900


Introduction of before-and-after-school care:

Implementation of before and after school care in 5 of our school communities in collaboration with local businesses and not-for-profit organizations. 

This service will expand next year into additional school communities as we build capacity in this area and where community interest exists.



Early learning program pilot:

Continued full-time kindergarten programming at Dr. Morris Gibson, Big Rock School, Spitzee Elementary School, and C. Ian McLaren School.

Continued junior kindergarten programming at École Percy Pegler School, Big Rock School, École Joe Clark School, Blackie School, and Spitzee Elementary.

Implementation of an early learning program for junior and kindergarten age children in 2 of our school communities in collaboration with local not-for-profit organizations that provide daytime care within the school setting.

This service will expand next year into additional school communities as we build capacity in this area and where community interest exists.



Rebranding Hub@Home as the Foothills Digital Academy:

Expanded marketing strategy into new Alberta/Western Canada markets to increase enrollment base of online learners.



Custodial reductions:

Reductions in custodial to those planned pre-COVID based on the original 2019-2020 budget. Projected cost savings of 516K annually.



Extended two-week Easter Break:

This will increase the break by an additional 3.5 days in the week prior to Good Friday. Schools will add additional time to their schedules to ensure they are meeting required instruction levels. 



Increased technology fee:

For the first time since the fee was reduced from $30 to $15 in the 2015/16 school year, we are increasing the technology fee from $15 to $25. This is a value-added fee which will increase bandwidth across the division. This is the only fee that will affect all students and will not be subject to an additional increase in next year’s budget.



Bring your own device incentives:

Surveys indicate many students have their own devices. Using these in the classroom reduces our need to purchase redundant technology. We will continue to offer attractive pricing through our service providers for device purchases. Despite a reduced number, devices will remain available for students who do not have access to computers/tablets at home.



Renewed lobbying for self-insurance:

In 2018-2019, our insurance costs were $568K. Last year, they were $2.3 million, representing a 400% increase. Rates are projected to increase again this year as the market hardens and we continue to be penalized for the damage incurred in the 2013 floods. 

We will continue to lobby the Government of Alberta for the only solution that will address this growing number: self-insurance. A plan has been crafted to lobby with renewed vigour.

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